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What’s Wabi-Sabi? The Popular Interior Design Trend of 2018
What is Wabi-Sabi? This is a question that many designers have been trying to figure out since it’s jump in popularity in early 2018. The short answer is this:
Wabi-Sabi is the philosophy of embracing imperfection in the natural world.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we should be praising and embracing belongings in our lives that are in disrepair or falling apart. Rather, acknowledging that possessions won’t stay brand new and perfect all the time.
Applying Wabi-Sabi philosophies to home design isn’t the easiest thing to wrap your brain around. We’re conditioned to seeing perfectly curated bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, etc. There’s not a single pillow or rug out of place in these carefully planned “after” photos. It’s easy to wonder how some people live in some of these potentially impractical spaces. With that in mind, you can turn to Wabi-Sabi ideals when wondering why your living room doesn’t look as amazing as the ones in design blogs. As we mentioned before, it’s all about embracing imperfection. A vase you’ve had for years might have a crack in it, that doesn’t mean it needs to go. Faded pillows from years of use, or a well worn wooden table, these are both pieces of furniture that tell stories with their imperfections. It’s important to embrace the effect that time has on your life.
Now that we’ve dipped our toes into the philosophy of Wabi-Sabi, we’ll try to nail down some tangible characteristics that define this growing design trend.
Rough Hewn Edges and Finishes
This doesn’t simply mean unpolished surfaces or brand new furniture distressed to look “rustic”. As we’ve mentioned previously, it’s about finding the natural beauty in things. If you’re looking for a comparative style, a rustic farmhouse or rural design is what we’re getting at. Something like this reclaimed wood vanity.
Minimalism and Simplicity
Wabi-Sabi is rooted in the ideas of minimalism and simplicity. The best way to interpret this from a design standpoint is to collect and pieces of furniture and belongings that mean something to you and display them in your home. The catch is that you have to be selective of what you’re keeping and displaying. You’ll have to really consider what is important enough to take up your space. Wabi-Sabi is about embracing imperfection and nature to reduce stress in your life. It’s been proven that clutter only causes more stress, so choose wisely!
Neutral Colors and Earth Tones
A crucial aspect of using the Wabi-Sabi philosophy in design is straying away from bright, bold colors. Intense colors will completely detract from the clutter free tranquility of your space. Neutral colors and earth tones are your best friend when designing. We get it though, only neutral colors and earth tones does sound a little boring. The best way to spice this up is to utilize pieces with elements from nature. This includes interesting textures like stone, wood, clay, terra cotta, brick, etc. Another way to keep your space interesting is to incorporate as much natural light as possible. Spaces with big windows allow you to tie your indoor space into the outside world.
We’ve mentioned the importance of embracing nature as part of Wabi-Sabi already. However, it’s important to incorporate nature in a visually pleasing way. A simple way to do this is to use house plants to bring the outdoors in. Low profile and low maintenance options are best so you can spend less time worrying about watering and more time enjoying the atmosphere they create. Natural art is a great direction to go as well. Since we’re embracing the imperfection of the natural world, why not try something a little different. Driftwood art is perfect because it’s wood that has been weathered by the elements into something that is uniquely it’s own. I would imagine it’s tough to find two pieces of driftwood that are exactly alike.
As a final reminder, a space that looks lived in is good! You want friends, family, and guests to be in a space that has been used. The Wabi-Sabi design vibe is all about showing off your personality and how you use your space. Don’t fluff your pillows or re-fold the blanket a hundred times, let everyone experience your space naturally.
Mike is the acting Digital Content Manager at Trade Winds Imports. He has been writing about home improvement, remodeling, and design for over 9 years and has been featured in such publications as theSpruce, ApartmentTherapy, Freshome, Huffington Post, and Forbes. When he’s not busy writing, developing websites, or working on his own house, he’s spending time outside with his wife, 2 year old daughter, and newborn son. If you have any questions or comments regarding the content on this site, please email Mike!